AN EAST Lothian workman who claimed he was sleepwalking during an alleged sexual assault on a flatmate has walked free from court after being found not guilty.

Christopher Palmer, 30, was alleged to have fondled the woman's breast after walking into her bedroom in the middle of the night.

Mr Palmer was alleged to have grabbed the woman by the wrists before inappropriately touching her breast during the incident in a shared flat in Leith on February 12, 2022.

The self-employed painter and decorator told a trial earlier this year that he had no recollection of the alleged sexual assault because he was sleepwalking at the time.

Mr Palmer said that he had suffered from the sleep disorder since childhood and, following the incident, he went back to bed unaware that anything had happened until the police woke him shortly after.

Solicitor Stephanie Clinkscale, defending, lodged “a self-defence of automatism” on behalf of her client and a specialist report had been prepared into his condition.

The alleged victim told the trial that she shared a flat with Mr Palmer and had only met him a couple of times before she claimed he entered her bedroom and assaulted her.

READ MORESleepwalking claim at sexual assault trial

The woman, an NHS worker, said that she was lying in bed playing a computer game when her bedroom door was unexpectedly opened by Mr Palmer at about 2am.

She claimed that he “lunged” onto her bed, sat on her legs and grabbed hold of her wrists, leading her to start “screaming and shouting” to get off her.

The woman said: “He told me to be quiet and stop screaming. He didn’t look aggressive, he looked a bit spaced.

“I managed to free my right wrist and started digging my nails into his face but there was no reaction.

“With his left hand he was touching my breast. I was terrified, angry and scared.”

The woman said that two other flatmates heard her shouting and rushed to her aid, ushering him from her room.

She told the trial that she had immediately phoned the police and officers arrived at the property shortly afterwards.

'I believe I was sleepwalking'

Mr Palmer told the court that he had been alone in his bedroom all evening and had drunk two bottles of wine before falling asleep at about midnight.

He said that he woke up in the hallway beside one flatmate and had “assumed” he had been to the toilet before then heading back to his bedroom and going to sleep.

He said: “I believe I was sleepwalking, as I have previously.

“I had no idea anything had happened and was going back to sleep. I was not really aware how I’d got there.

“I went back to bed and the next thing I knew there was a knock on the door and it was the police.”

Mr Palmer, now of Gracefield Court, Musselburgh, added: “I don’t remember anything happening and I must have been sleepwalking and accidentally gone into her room.

“I feel bad there was an altercation but I had no intention of harming her in any way."

Following the evidence on day two of the trial this week, Sheriff Francis Gill found Mr Palmer not guilty.